Jemison sends three players to college football programs

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Three Jemison High School football players who have set the foundation for the building program the Panthers are putting together put pen to paper and signed national letters of intent to play college football on May 23.

Tucker Bradford, Efrain Villeda and Elijah Allen signed letters to take their talents to the college level and all three will be doing so in the state of Alabama. Bradford will be attending Huntingdon College in Montgomery while Villeda and Allen will both attend Birmingham Prep.

For Jemison football coach John Therrell, it is his first signing class during his tenure at the school.

“All three of them have the ability and that is why they are in the position they are in,” Therrell said. “All three will have great careers at the next level, and I am excited that they are my first signing class. It could not be three better guys and I am extremely happy for them.”

Bradford visited Huntingdon twice, once on an official visit and one for the homecoming game. He toured the facilities and saw how everyone interacted with the team and enjoyed the atmosphere. Bradford battled multiple injuries throughout his high school career at Jemison, but managed to overcome and lock down a college scholarship.

“Coming back from injury and getting healthy for my senior year meant something to me,” Bradford said. “I am glad with my minimal film I got the opportunity to play somewhere and sign. I am ready to go play football.”

Bradford said he is excited to get inside a college program weight room, continue improving and break personal goals he has set for himself. He plans to play either defensive back or wide receiver at Huntingdon.

“Tucker has done some great things for our program and he has faced some adversity throughout his high school career, but he has always overcame it,” Therrell said. “He had an instrumental part in our team this past season and it is very well deserved.”

Villeda was a bully in the backfield for Jemison for years and his aggressive running style was noticed by Birmingham Prep.

“It means a lot because this is something I have wanted to do since I was little and go to college and play football,” Villeda said. “I put a lot of work in to get here … I want to get better and maybe transfer to somewhere else after a few years.”

Villeda plans to play running back at Birmingham Prep as well, and was voted offensive player of the year for Jemison in the 2022 season.

“I think where (Efrain) is going will allow him to get some more film and get noticed,” Therrell said. “I am excited to see how his time at Birmingham Prep will translate to the rest of his post-high school career, and what he will be able to accomplish.”

Villeda will be joined at Birmingham Prep by Allen who was the 2022 defensive player of the year for the Jemison program. “Pit,” as the Jemison program calls him, will continue on the defensive side of the ball and play linebacker at Birmingham Prep.

“It feels great (to make it official), and not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this,” Allen said. “I am ready … I want to see how well I fit in, outwork everyone and be a standout freshman.”

“(Elijah) was instrumental on our defense for us, and he had double digit tackles in almost every game we had,” Therrell said.

Therrell plans to attend a few Birmingham Prep games this season to see Allen and Villeda, and also plans to get down to Huntingdon to see Bradford. He said getting players from Jemison into college programs is huge for their program as a whole. He hopes to continue the relationships with college coaches to make the signings a yearly thing at Jemison High School.